The Strangers

She was sitting alone at the bar counter, indulging her fluttery eyes with Picture of Dorian Gray, carefully leafing through the pages with her porcelain, slender fingers while listening to the soft and mellow Bill Evans’ Blue in Green and slowly sipping her Soixante Quinze as it produces more cold mists on its glass.

He was there, alone as well– making his way towards the nymph with a light blue-coloured silk dress. The scent of expensive alcoholic drinks and cigarettes are wafting through the air, combined with the chatters and fine music revolving the room, and the pale lights and gloomy yet sophisticated interior…these things only made her standout, like Sir Ernest Cassel’s pink diamond on a Strawberries Arnaud.

The band kept playing, and it felt as if he was being pulled towards her on every note from the music and her fragrance. Lily, was the first note. Elegant, refined. A woman with a pure heart and full of aspirations. Iris. Second note. Dominator. A woman who is free-spirited, a wanderer. White musk, last but not the least, was the base note. Classic, mysterious. A woman with a mind as vast as the forest, and as deep as the ocean.

He found himself finally standing beside her, but his presence was of no significance to her realm.

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” He said. At last, the woman folded the page and closed the book to grace him with a glance. He was pleased to see her smile so vividly.

“Not a sparrow falls to the ground without him seeing it…but if it falls, just the same. What good is seeing it fall?” She replied, and he chuckled. “The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain, his least known writing.” he answered. “Would you mind if a being out of the pages accompany you?” She smiled once again to reply, “not at all.”

He sat on the bar stool at the left side of the woman and called the bartender for a Martini. She placed the book on the other side and entertained her drink. She took a sip, and the man took his when the waiter handed the drink.

“Austen.” She said.

“Fitzgerald.” He answered.



“What a philanderer,” despite of such remark, she chuckled while he took a sip from his glass. “I can see it just by knowing your preferences.” She added.

“Milady, a romanticist and dignified one, why do you come here to read books knowing that you will encounter a ‘philanderer’ such as me?” he quoted.

She laughed, her eyes fluttered and bit her lip. “It’s not bad at all. But if you didn’t know Wilde nor Twain, my eyes wouldn’t leave my book.”

Their conversation started almost twelve midnight and ended at two in the morning, leaving both of them drunk and blabbering things that still made sense to them and not for others. They didn’t go back to their respective houses, instead, they went to a hotel, slowly held themselves between each other’s arms and swayed without music– just a drunken memory of the fine jazz from the bistro as their background.

Hands started to have their own will and wander, lips slowly reached out each other. They ended up peeling each other’s raiment and making love– to him, they were strangers just a few hours ago and are now completely open with one another, sharing the same thoughts, lust, rhythm, passion as if they were a single soul separated by fate only to find one another full in age and of wisdom.

Light came streaking through the oak-colored window blinds, bringing such intolerable agony in his eyes that caused him to wake up from a deep sleep. He rubbed his eyes, faced the other side of the bed only to find out she was no longer there.

He was back to reality indeed. The sound from the busy streets– cars honking from traffic, sound of people protesting against the parliament, the chugging sound from the nearby train.

Without her, the room looked very dull and dark, and cold with its monotonous colors of autumn. It felt, as if, he was not whole – he was missing something, and only she could complement him.

He roamed his eyes on the dreary environment and laid his eyes on the lamp table left with a note.

“There could have never been two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved.”

Reading these words hurt him more, because the nymph with the light blue-coloured silk dress never opened her heart to him.

Not even a second.



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The Ink Eater

What a cold and dark night, I said to myself as I dally my fingers that stroked the curtain to reveal the nil environment outside the public carriage. There was nothing to see, even the grass and the trees and the marred soil from the wheels were completely devoured by the murk. The frail, dancing gleam from the candle light and the eerie, lone sound from the nag’s hooves created a rhythmic pattern that casts me into a slumber.

Eyes were starting to close, until I suddenly noticed the man sitting across me.

What a strange man, I thought. A huge man he is, wearing a black bowler hat, round spectacles and a coat but he did not remove these coverings even under the comfort of the carriage roof. He was clenching tight onto the newspaper and read the words nonstop ever since our voyage started.

Mumble, mumble, mumble. He muttered, almost as if chanting a prayer.

His pronunciation on the words were too cluttered and soft, and was overwhelmed by the sound of the wheels bumping against the rocks.

Curiosity creeped into me, I opened my mouth, and words came out.

“Excuse me, sir. I noticed you’ve been reading that newspaper for about an hour already. What does it say about today?”

And those big and stone-like fists lowered the newspaper. It revealed the face of the man with his dark spectacles. He tilted his face downward, and his eyes stared at me. To my surprise, they were like black beads, or like a bottomless pit. They made me feel consumed, as if they were pulling my soul away through my eyes. I managed to blink and take a gulp, and realized I was breathing heavily as if I was submerged deeply into the water.

The man tilted his head into its normal position and started to converse with me. He frowned and his forehead wrinkled. His voice was deep like those of old men. “Pardon me my fellow lad, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

Still in deep breaths, I responded. “What are you?”

“I am an ink eater.”

He quickly sensed confusion building up by noticing my wrinkled forehead. “Haven’t you heard of us before?”

I shook my head. He folded the newspaper and held it with his left hand.

“Well my fellow then let me explain to you our kind. We are also humans, but a different type. We feed on writings – on words typed with an ink on publications. ” He removed his spectacles, and it revealed its now-normal eyes.

“The only moment where our eyes turn black is when we eat.”

The fear in me subsided after hearing his story and after seeing his eyes.

“Eating words…what do they taste like?”

“Oh, the only way to know is to try eating some!”

The ink eater did tell me no more about their strange ways. He put back his spectacles, clenched back onto the newspaper and continued his meal.



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That afternoon was lazy. The rain was strong, and the only thing left to do is to cuddle with him at the couch as we share a small cozy blanket. He clasped my left hand with his right, and his face drew closer to mine.

“What am I to you?” he asked.

“Coffee,” I answered. “You’re the first thing I ever wanted to have in the morning, and the only one that I need to keep me awake.”

He chuckled.

“What am I to you?” I asked.

“Love, you’re a heroin to me.” he said. “I can’t live without you– you always take away the pain.”



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It was a stormy twilight but the sky appeared like night.It was pitch black, nothing in it as I took a peek from my hood. The lamp street lights appeared like souls flamed up and lined on both sides to give me a grand entrance. Only the sound of the falling rain and my squeaking boots can be heard along the way.

I paused. Then I saw it.

Seated quietly at the end of the aisle, almost invisible. Its felt-like fur matted when the rain damped its coat. Its eyes all flared up, like two small burning emeralds, waiting for me, making its mumbling sounds as it waves its tail in a sluggish manner. My vision is blurred. I can’t see its face, if its smiling or grinning.
What will happen when I reached it?

Will it bite and hurt me or just run away?



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Heart is beating loud,

Sweat dripping on the ground.

These are the only sounds that I could hear, overpowering Debussy’s Claire de Lune on the background – that bit of synthetic heaven cannot save me from the hell that my mind has been creating. My eyes are useless, for I chose to be blind. They were covered by fabrics of lies, my fantasy, my vice. I felt so weak and vulnerable, trusting only my sense of smell to tell whether he’s around. It’s bringing me thrill, and fear, and excitement – the sensation brings chill all over and makes my body tremble.

There it is…the fragrance that I’ve been waiting for and yet, wishing to never inhale again. It was the reason why I am here.

I was casted in a spell.

I was hypnotized.

He, became my drug.

The scent grew stronger and my skin started to bathe me more of my sweat.

Two pheromones wafting in the room, I wonder if I am the only fool.

I felt his fingertips landed on my right thigh, it made my heart beat faster and my lungs breathe deeper. His touch reverberated all over my body, it almost made me want to squirm.

I felt the first whip, and let out a moan. I felt the temperature on where it struck, changing from cold to hot. As he continued on lashing, my skin became numb and my mind was completely blank, for I am completely enthralled with his redolence. I know that I could be saved, but I don’t want to, and chose to be in here. No words could save me anymore.

He threw away the whip and bent over me, spreading my legs wide to expose the entire art of me, which he molded only for him. I felt him uniting with me, synching his rhythm and pace with my body. Hands caressing anywhere it reaches, breaths exchanging in deep gasps, lips showering each other’s skin.

Fear was gone.

It was heaven.

And now I could clearly hear Debussy’s music on the background.

Still soaked in sweat and hair was mussed, he looked at me from above and smiled.

“I love you,” I said. He paused, stood up and left.

It was the safe word after all.



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“Everything is just an illusion,” he said, smiling at me. The wind on a 16-story building was cold and strong that it almost blew me off my feet. He leaned against the railing and looked at the people below. I followed.
None of them could notice us and take even a short glance.
“They don’t care about the people around them, including us. Because we are not part of their world. They go on with their lives thinking that each day is different and new but the truth is, they just go around in circles. They are bound to do certain things, and discard those that they are not made for.”
I stared at him and he returned my gaze.
“You know what? I want to be a bird. I believe I can do it. If I won’t try to fly then I wouldn’t know, right?”
He stood on the railing, tiptoed. He closed his eyes and spread his arms.
He let the wind blew him away, and fell head first.
Now, people took notice of him. He has become a part of their illusion, something that is hard to forget. Everyone below paused. Mouths were open but there was no sound. Eyes stare blank, like machines that hang from a glitch.
I wish he really became a bird in his illusion.
But in mine, he was just a rotten egg who thought he became a chick.
An now his yolk is spilling on the streets.


featured photo: Artwork by Asano Inio


For he have read the books that a few had laid their eyes on to, nobody could fathom the words he uttered nor the things he wrote. They accused him of being insane, but the truth is they lack enlightenment. Ah, who would have thought that this knowledge hoisted from the depths of the archaic would cause his destruction? He laughed, for he alone knows it well but his bravery caused his fall.



featured image source: Jonathon Fowler